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Review: Aida at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC

Review by Yasmin Elahi


The Lyric Theatre at QPAC played host to one of Verdi’s most iconic operas this month. Opera Queensland and Opera Australia’s production of ‘Aida’ has been long awaited, after originally being programmed for their 2020 season. Finally making it’s premiere three years later, the audience was buzzing for this ground-breaking interpretation of such a tragic love story. 

Written by Giuseppe Verdi for the opening of the Egypt’s Khedival Opera House in 1871, Aida follows the tragic love story of Aida, torn between her allegiance to her country and her love for her married Egyptian hero. Set in 4 acts, ‘Aida’ boasts soaring orchestrations set against the sumptuous backdrop of a fictional war. Trumpets feature heavily in the orchestra and the choice to have them come into the boxes and play in view of the audience brought an added level of triumph and grandeur to the production.


Conductor Lorenzo Passerini commanded the Queensland Symphony Orchestra with finesse. The synergy between the orchestra and singers was flawless and they combined to create a magical musical experience.


Director/Choreographer Davide Livermore, along with Revival Director Shaun Rennie pushed the boundaries with this production. The massive LED screens were a central focus of the set and blocking and enhanced the opulence and spectacle of the piece. The way they moved on their own, creating different rooms, shapes and worlds was a true blending of 21st century technology with 19th century music. Projections by D-Wok were bold and riveting and the use of the screens in the final scene was a haunting visual spectacle that left a real impression and finished the story in a tragic but beautiful way.


Set Design by Gio Forma and Costume Design by Gianluca Falaschi struck a balance between the ancient Egyptian setting and the modern direction. Costumes were dazzling and ornate, while the set pieces were practical and symbolic. The use of the staircases to create levels kept the action on stage interesting and enhanced the grand spectacle feel of the show.


Choreography by Davide Livermore and Allie Graham was once again perfectly balanced. Modern elements of dance blended with Egyptian motifs in dynamic choreographic choices that captivated the audience’s attention. The sacred rights dance number and the battle scenes were visually impressive and well performed by the dancers.


Natalie Aroyan excelled as Aida. Her vocal performance was supreme and she personified Aida’s struggles between loving her country and Radames with heart and soul.


Elena Gabouri was commanding as Amneris. Her strong personality and vocal prowess meant she dominated the stage and embodied her character with gusto.


Diego Torre was a standout as Radames. His sumptuous voice matched with his tender characterisation made him instantly likeable and allowed the audience to understand Aida’s plight. An exceptional performance by Torre in this role. 


The remainder of the cast were all professional and faultless. Together, they sang with clarity and power and formed a rousing chorus. Each member of this cast were fully committed to their role and provided a performance that was world class.


Overall, the long- awaited production ‘Aida’ was everything it promised to be and more. The ground-breaking direction and use of LED screens proved that opera can be brought into the 21st century and the audience reaction further cemented that there is a desire for shows like these – where directors that are not afraid to push boundaries can breathe new life into classic works in memorable and spectacular ways.


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